TBR Spotlight: Japanese Horror & Thriller

I have been on a bit of a quest lately to find more diverse horror novels from around the world and this seemed like a perfect excuse to add lots of books to my to-read list from my favourite subgenre of horror and thriller: J-horror. I generally read A LOT of Japanese literature and I find that their darker novels can be atmospheric, creepy and chilling in ways you would never see in Western fiction. I might write a list of my favourite Japanese novels on a later date but for now, these are some of the ones I have recently added to my to-read pile.

Another by Yukito Ayatsuji

About:
“In the spring of 1998, Kouichi Sakakibara transfers to Yomiyama North Middle School. In class, he develops a sense of unease as he notices that the people around him act like they’re walking on eggshells, and students and teachers alike seem frightened. As a chain of horrific deaths begin to unfold around him, he comes to discover that he has been placed in the cursed Class 3 in which the student body head count is always one more than expected. Class 3 is haunted by a vengeful spirit responsible for gruesome deaths in an effort to satisfy its spite. To stop the vicious cycle gripping his new school, Kouichi decides to get to the bottom of the curse, but is he prepared for the horror that lies ahead…?”

Another is a horror manga series rather than a novel. I didn’t hear of it until a week ago and I have been interested in reading more horror manga lately so it automatically ended up on my GoodReads to-read list. I will probably start this one once I am finished reading Tokyo Ghoul.

(If you don’t know what manga are, they are simply Japanese graphic novels.)

Goth by Otsuichi

About:
“Someone had taken apart her body in the forest. Her eyes, tongue, ears, thumbs, organs–each was nailed to a tree.

One tree had, from top to bottom: the left big toe, the upper lip, the nose, and the stomach. Another had other bits of her arranged like Christmas tree decorations.

The murder was soon the talk of the nation…

Psychologically twisted and emotionally wrenching, this compelling story takes Japan’s horror tradition to a whole new level of fear.”

I saw this novel on a few lists of diverse horror reads and was drawn to both the title and the dramatic cover. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but this one is so monochrome you can’t help but look at it. The blurb of this novel sounds very grim and disturbing but I tend to look for that in books, especially Japanese ones. I would say that I am weird and apologise, but you are reading my horror blog, you should expect this sort of book taste by now.

Auto Fiction by Hitomi Kanehara

About:

“Rin is flying back from her honeymoon. She’s madly in love with her husband, Shin, and the future looks rosy. Then Shin disappears to the bathroom while he thinks Rin is sleeping and she starts to imagine that he has gone to seduce the flight attendant. As her thoughts spiral out of control the phrase ‘madly in love’ takes on a more sinister meaning.

Prizewinning author Hitomi Kanehara’s sensational novel, Autofiction, follows Rin’s life backwards through time from this moment so that we see her when she is eighteen, sixteen and finally fifteen, and a picture of the dark heart and violent past of this disturbed young woman gradually develops.”

This is more of a thriller novel than a horror novel. I discovered this book when it appeared in my GoodReads recommendation list after I read Battle Royale recently. Battle Royale was so good that I naturally added books suggested because of it to my to read pile. Also I love books about stalkers and I haven’t read one about a “madly in love” woman before.

Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama

About:

“Six Four. The nightmare no parent could endure. The case no detective could solve. The twist no listener could predict.

For five days in January 1989, the parents of a seven-year-old Tokyo schoolgirl sat and listened to the demands of their daughter’s kidnapper. They would never learn his identity. They would never see their daughter again.

For the 14 years that followed, the Japanese public listened to the police’s apologies. They would never forget the botched investigation that became known as Six Four. They would never forgive the authorities their failure. For one week in late 2002, the press officer attached to the police department in question confronted an anomaly in the case.

He could never imagine what he would uncover. He would never have looked if he’d known what he would find.”

A best selling thriller novel that is starting to pick up popularity all over the world. Usually I have to buy Japanese novels online but I have seen this one for sale in shops here in Ireland. I plan to snatch it up soon and get reading. I haven’t read a book about a missing child in a long time so I am excited for it.

The Summer of the Ubume by Natsuhiko Kyogoku

About:

“The Summer of Ubume is the first of Japan’s hugely popular Kyogokudo series, which has 9 titles and 4 spin-offs thus far.

Akihiko “Kyogokudo” Chuzenji, the title’s hero, is an exorcist with a twist: he doesn’t believe in ghosts. To circumnavigate his clients’ inability to come to grips with a problem being their own, he creates fake supernatural explanations–ghosts–that he the “exorcises” by way of staged rituals. His patients’ belief that he has vanquished the ghost creating their problems cures them.

In this first adventure, Kyogokudo, must unravel the mystery of a woman who has been pregnant for 20 months and find her husband, who disappeared two months into the pregnancy. And unravel he does, in the book’s final disturbing scene.”

An Umbume is the ghost of a woman who died while while pregnant they normally appear holding their dead baby or care for living children they find. They are one of my favourite ghosts from Japanese folklore so naturally I wanted to read this book once I saw the title. I also badly need to know what the “final disturbing scene” is that is mentioned in the blurb.

Have you read any of the books mentioned above? If so let me know what you thought of them. Or suggest a diverse and dark book to help me with my quest. They don’t have to be horror or thriller, they can just be on the dark side.

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